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Rough 6th costs Pirates more than lead, game

Bucs lose Cervelli, Santana to injuries in same frame vs. Brewers
September 21, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates lost their pitcher, catcher and lead in one cruel inning Friday night at PNC Park.The Brewers erased a two-run deficit and hit three homers in a six-run sixth inning while the Pirates removed both catcher Francisco Cervelli and reliever Edgar Santana due to injuries in an

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates lost their pitcher, catcher and lead in one cruel inning Friday night at PNC Park.
The Brewers erased a two-run deficit and hit three homers in a six-run sixth inning while the Pirates removed both catcher Francisco Cervelli and reliever Edgar Santana due to injuries in an 8-3 loss. The rain-delayed defeat snapped the Pirates' five-game winning streak and lowered their elimination number in the National League Wild Card race to three.
"[The Brewers] have hit a bunch of homers. They've had a high-octane offense. They can do it a lot of different ways," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "They shrunk our ballpark tonight, which doesn't happen very often."

Cervelli exited the game due to gastrointestinal discomfort, the Pirates announced, after Jesus Aguilar hit an RBI double to right field. Cervelli received a relay throw from second baseman Adam Frazier too late to record an out at the plate, turned and fired a sidearm throw that sailed wide of third baseman Colin Moran. Cervelli, who was scratched on Monday due to flu-like symptoms, left the game shortly afterward with head athletic trainer Bryan Housand.
Two batters later, with catcher Elias Diaz behind the plate, Santana left the game due to right forearm/elbow discomfort. Santana had fallen behind Ryan Braun, 3-0, and exited alongside assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano after throwing a 92.9-mph fastball without attempting to throw another warmup pitch.

Santana said his arm felt tight, and he will be re-examined Saturday. If it's more than just discomfort, Santana's injury would be a blow to the Pirates' bullpen. The 26-year-old right-hander established himself this season as a legitimate late-inning reliever, entering Friday with a 2.71 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 66 1/3 innings.
The Pirates gave Santana, who has made a career-high 69 appearances, a week off at the beginning of the month to manage his workload. He figures to be a prominent part of Pittsburgh's deep bullpen next season, along with closer Felipe Vazquez, setup man Keone Kela, right-hander Kyle Crick and rookie Richard Rodriguez.
With a two-run lead, the Pirates turned to their bullpen after a two-hour, 14-minute rain delay in the fifth inning that forced Ivan Nova out of the game following 4 1/3 efficient innings. Nova needed only 46 pitches to cruise through Milwaukee's lineup twice.

Nova wanted to stay in the game, but when the delay dragged on, he knew returning would not be the smart move for his long-term health.
"You want to go out there and keep pitching," Nova said. "I was so happy with the way that I was feeling, the way I was throwing the ball, that I just wanted to go back out there."

The Pirates' lead came courtesy of homers by Josh Bell and Corey Dickerson before the rain delay.

Once the skies cleared, the Brewers quickly bashed their way back into the game. After Christian Yelich's leadoff single against Santana, Aguilar laced a double off the right-field wall. Up came Travis Shaw, who smashed his 30th home run of the season to right field and put Milwaukee ahead, 4-3.
Santana then fell behind Braun, and left-hander Steven Brault finished the four-pitch walk. Third baseman Mike Moustakas and veteran catcher Erik Kratz then clobbered back-to-back homers off Brault, with Moustakas hitting a two-run shot to right-center and Kratz launching a fastball to left-center.
After all that, the Pirates finally recorded the first out of the inning as Brault induced a groundout from shortstop Orlando Arcia. Jonathan Schoop singled to right, but Brault retired Curtis Granderson and Yelich to end the inning.
Keon Broxton, a former Pirates prospect, hit the Brewers' fourth homer of the night, against reliever Dovydas Neverauskas in the seventh inning.
"You've got to be smart pitching against them. Anyone in the lineup can do damage on you, from top to bottom," Nova said. "You've got to make pitches. You've got to be tough on them, because they're going to be tough on you."
Brewers reliever Josh Hader has allowed five extra-base hits to left-handed hitters over the past two years, and the Pirates have been on the other end of three of them. Gregory Polanco doubled off Hader in July 2017, Frazier hit a double against him last month and Dickerson knocked a triple down the right-field line off Hader in the sixth inning on Friday night.
Rookie Pablo Reyes robbed Granderson of a hit to begin the game and continued to impress in his first stint as a right fielder. Granderson hit a 94.1-mph liner to right in the first inning, but Reyes made a diving catch -- two nights after pulling off a similarly improbable play.

It was a five-star play, according to Statcast™, as Reyes had to cover 41 feet in three seconds, for a catch probability of just 6 percent. (His highlight-reel play on Wednesday was even more impressive, with a 4 percent catch probability.)
"You don't want to take that vibe away from Nova, pitching a good game. He was doing what he wanted to do out there. When a rain delay comes, it kind of stalls everything. Momentum can shift either way, and it did tonight." -- Dickerson
Right-hander Trevor Williams, who owns a 1.10 ERA over his past 11 outings, will make his penultimate start of the season as the Pirates return to PNC Park to face the Brewers on Saturday night. Williams held the Brewers scoreless for six innings on Sunday at Miller Park. Right-hander Zach Davies will start for Milwaukee, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.